Kiss, the work of Ted Dekker and Erin Healy, begins promisingly; the prologue is intriguing and well written. It draws the reader into the story, striking just the right balance between withholding and offering information. Unfortunately, this is the best part of the entire novel.
The story focuses on Shauna McAllister, the daughter of a presidential candidate, who wakes up from a six week coma to discover that she has lost six months of her memory due to a car crash. However, memory loss is not the oddest of her symptoms: she has somehow developed the ability to rob others of their memories.
Here Shauna makes a leap that I doubt anyone would make. What person would actually think, “I keep getting these visions about other people’s experiences; I must be stealing their memories”? A more natural thought process would be: “I think I’m seeing other people’s memories. Am I going crazy?” For her to come to her realization of her memory stealing capability in a way that seems natural would require significantly more work on the part of the authors. Shauna’s leap seems to have been born of convenience, and convenience is often the enemy of a good story.
While Shauna does experience some confusion about her situation, the audience does not. We know that she is a decent person, that the accident was no accident, that her father (or someone close to him) planned it, and that her memory loss was done to her because she knew too much. The authors let us see almost every card in their hands through the prologue and through stepping outside of Shauna’s perspective and into that of the story’s other characters, particularly its villains.
Having multiple perspectives in a novel is often problematic, as is evident in Kiss. Too many writers like telling stories through multiple perspectives without understanding why or how to use it properly. An author should decide whether to stick solely to one character’s perspective or to dog the steps of multiple characters based on the answers to these questions: Does shifting perspectives help or hinder the story? How does it affect the reader’s experience? Does it undercut the novel’s tension? Does it reveal too much? The problem comes when an author does not consider these questions carefully enough.
Ted Dekker and Erin Healy did not do this properly. They should have stayed with Shauna’s perspective alone and let the readers grapple with questions about Shauna’s sanity, memories, identity, and about what’s really going on around her. Since they didn’t, Kiss turns out to be a novel merely with the potential to be interesting.